On the day, over two years ago, that our local community put into effect a lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, I stepped out of our house and walked up and down the street briefly to experience the strangely sudden stillness and lack of activity. As I proceeded down the empty sidewalk, I heard the sound of a small aircraft behind and above me, something I normally would hardly notice, but today — with no traffic or other human sounds to compete — it startled me. I turned to look up and instinctively brought my ever-present camera’s viewfinder to my eye, seeing only an empty, gray, overcast sky with a small plane in the distance and a nearby utility line out of focus.
I captured that image because it instantly brought to my mind my fantasy of an opening scene in a film or video, existing only in my head but seeming to be unfolding before my eyes. What flashed through my imagination was the grey sky, with the camera slowly pulling back, revealing a plane that was falling from the sky. As the imagined video camera backed away, revealing the larger scene, a voice-over began — perhaps the voice of Tilda Swinton? — describing in literal terms what we were seeing on this day, the day the lockdown began. In my mind, the camera view continued pulling back, revealing that it was looking from an interior window against which a framed copy of the very photograph I was making was sitting by that window in a room, somewhere.
Since that time — March 13, 2020 — I have produced many variations of that photograph, trying to make sense of my initial reactions and occasionally exploring further inspirations. One of my most recent variations overlays text that describes in literal terms the original scene itself with that first photograph:
A few examples of many other variations:
So, as I continue from to time to experiment with the image and concept and how to realize a cinematic version of my initial mental visualization, I have also experimented with using “prompted AI” to see what submitting the text description of what I saw (as reflected in the image immediately above the foregoing examples) to an artificial intelligence algorithm might yield. And this is my first result:
Perhaps these experiments will continue. In the meantime, I have other pressing writing and photography projects in the mix. We shall see.